They were wrong about the second baby coming early (as you all know), but ooh boy. They were right about him coming fast. Want to hear the story? Of course you do! We all love a good birth story, don’t we?
It was Tuesday morning, I was finally giving in to the obvious fact that I would be the first person to be pregnant forever. Despite having contractions for 3 nights in a row for an hour or two, they’d stopped, and Sunday and Monday night I’d felt nothing. Hrrrummpf. I spent Monday hanging with my brother, having a long late lunch at Gjelina. And Tuesday, via Instagram because it’s just that awesome, made plans to have lunch with Liz while she was in town, also at Gjelina. One can never have enough Gjelina, I say.
And now here somehow I’d made it to my post-40 week appointment with the midwives. So dutifully I went, whined that I was still pregnant, made an appointment for a non-stress test the following Tuesday (horrifying thought… that’s I’d still be pregnant 7 days later), and was sent on my way.
Before lunch I stopped by the pool for what I was hoping would be my last swim this pregnancy (I’d been saying that the last 5 times I’d been to the pool, mind you). It was glorious, as swimming always is. Especially while 40+ weeks pregnant. (I’m seriously missing time at the pool right now, as a side note.)
And then it was time for lunch with Liz. Which was as delicious as any lunch can be. We said our goodbyes and as I turned to walk away from the front door of the restaurant… POP! My water broke. Again! That’s two babies and two labors starting with my water breaking. Apparently that’s how my body prefers to do it. As you can imagine, I was like UHHHH, now what?? Luckily I was not actually sitting in the restaurant. Can you imagine? “Um excuse me, waiter? I’ve just leaked amniotic fluid all over this chair and the floor under our table.” No, there may have been a few drips that hit the sidewalk, but luckily I was wearing a long, dark skirt and no one could tell what was happening but me.
I spread my pool towel on the seat of the car, got in, and called Brock to give him the scoop. As I drove home, I called our doula, Joanne, to let her know, and then called my parents to tell them to grab their bags and head up to LA so they could stay with Dashiell.
It was all very exciting, and also such a relief to be able get things in order that afternoon. I was so hoping that I would know during waking hours that I was going into labor, instead of being woken in the middle of the night with contractions. It just seemed so much easier to be able to plan during the day, rather than in the middle of the night. And I was so glad that we could tell Dashiell that we’d be gone in the morning and that he’d know that my parents would be there with him instead of us.
SO. That all happened at 3-ish. About 5-ish, I started to feel mild contractions. We went on a walk around the block with Dashiell and Brock’s sis Jess, who was there to hold down the fort in case we had to leave before my parents arrived. (We’d been warned that second labors can pick up and progress very quickly by multiple people, so we were prepared.)
My parents arrived, we ordered take out Thai for dinner, bags were packed, and by about 8 pm I was started to feel my contractions enough that we decided to time them for a bit (there’s an app for that, BTW). The confusing thing was that they weren’t really that long, only about 40 seconds, and came every 3 to 7 minutes. So I was sort of thinking we had a while to go still. Don’t they say they should be 1 minute long and 3-5 minutes apart to indicate active labor? Apparently none of the rules apply for second timers.
We all sort of hung around the living room, watching Wimbledon, and waiting. I’d talked to the midwife on call by then (Shadman, the women I wanted to deliver this baby, yay!), and she was cool with us staying at home for a bit since there wasn’t meconium in the water when it broke, and that my first labor had started the same way. My mom went to bed and my dad stayed up with us until about 10 (both urging us to just go to the darn hospital already!), when I made the arbitrary decision that we would leave for the hospital at 11. I talked to Shadman again who told us to call her on our way in. Her last (knowing) words were, “Okay… just don’t wait too long.” Contractions were more intense at that point, but no longer and no closer together. Brock packed the car and I synced my iTunes on my phone. And then suddenly it was 11 and it was time to go.
As I stepped off the porch and headed towards the car it felt like things started to change. At the last minute I grabbed an extra pillow from home for the car ride. Best decision ever. I rode to the hospital laying down in the back seat this time, unlike last time where I for some reason thought I had to sit in the front with my seatbelt on like a normal person. The plan was to call Joanne when we’d checked in to the hospital and have her come then. Why we always wait to call her until the last minute, I have no idea. I never think I need her until I REALLY need her and then I have to wait for her to arrive. But as we drove to the hospital I stopped talking or answering questions, and Brock made the executive decision to tell her to get in the car and come immediately.
I had a moment where I thought I might throw up in the car, but I kind of couldn’t believe I was that far along, and frankly didn’t want to get my hopes up. I was really really feeling the contractions at that point, but I was also doing a much better time visualizing each contraction opening my body to the birth of my baby. With Dashiell I definitely fought the pain as opposed to surrendering to it, which it turns out really does help you get through each wave. It’s the craziest feeling, being in labor. It’s so intense and so hard, but somehow you just DO IT.
We pulled up at the hospital, grabbed our bags and made our way up to L&D. I had to stop every few minutes for a contraction (again, glad I had my pillow to lean on!), and I couldn’t help but find it a wee bit funny that the orderly still had to follow us with an empty wheelchair even though there was like ZERO chance I was going to sit down in it.
By 11:45 we were checked into our room, and I dutifully laid on my side on the bed for 20 minutes of fetal monitoring. Laying on the bed was definitely not where I wanted to be, but the other option was to stand and that was out of the question too. The one bright part was that our nurse was just amazing. She was young and kind and helpful and totally on my team, and knew when to tell other staff to give me space. Which was really really more than I could have hoped for.
Our doula Joanne arrived shortly after we did and together she and Brock rubbed my back and squeezed my hips through each contraction. The one thing I did know what that I had to be touched at all times. Joanne rubbed my lower back continuously during breaks from contractions and if she let go of me it felt like I might just lose hold of the world. Something about having another person’s hands on my kept me from falling into pieces. And as much as I didn’t want to keep going, I knew that I couldn’t admit it to myself or to anyone. I was still unsure how much longer I’d be in labor and to admit distress felt like I would lose what little control I had of my body and my mind.
After fetal monitoring was over, an OB resident came in to do an ultrasound to make sure the baby was head down (even though he had been since 30 weeks) and to check the level of amniotic fluid left. They’d somehow lost my pre-admit forms so I then had to hear all the complications that could arise and the measures they’d take in those cases and sign a handful of forms. Which took another 20 minutes or so. She asked if I wanted her to check my dilation and while I was curious, I declined. I knew that I couldn’t hear that I was 4 or 5 centimeters at that moment, and keep my shit together. And with Dashiell they didn’t check me until I was 9, and that was awesome. Not knowing somehow made it easier.
All the while my contractions were building and at that point coming two at a time, instead of a more civilized one every 3 or 4 minutes. I’d have a really big one then a 30 second break followed by a slightly less big one before I’d have a moment to rest. The only thing I could do was hold onto the bar on the side of the hospital bed and breathe as slowly as I could manage.
At this point it must have been nearly 12:30. A second nurse came in to put in my heplock (it’s always a nurse in training, I swear), and it took her a few minutes to find a vein that would work on the top of my wrist. Just as she’d decided on a vein, I had a set of contractions that were different. The second one of the pair in particular felt like what I can only describe as the sensation of a bowling ball starting to descend through your pelvis. I felt the same thing with Dashiell, and remembered Jen feeling it during her birth. But I couldn’t believe that I was that close to having my baby. We’d only just arrived at the hospital after all. After that contraction, I looked up and told everyone that the last one was different. As in things were changing.
Before the nurse could start the heplock I was like, “Ummm I need to go to the bathroom before you do that. Like, right now.”
Which is basically code for, “I’m about to push a baby out”, but I didn’t have that sensation with Dashiell’s birth so I wasn’t really thinking about it. I was just like, get me to the toilet ASAP.
I started walking to the bathroom and made it halfway across the room before another huge contraction came. Luckily there was a rocking chair to hold onto right where I stopped because before I could even think I was pushing. And by pushing I mean the kind of pushing they talk about that feels like throwing up in reverse. Like there’s nothing in this world that can stop you from doin’ your thing. At that point (obviously) everyone in the room mobilized. I should mention that I was still wearing my clothes. Running shorts (because they have a liner so I could wear a towel in the to catch more leaking water) to be exact. And I heard someone say, “She’s pushing with her shorts on! She needs to come back to the bed!”
To which I was like, “NOOOOOO. I CAN’T!!!”
And I think our nurse said, “Yes you can, Kristina.” And our doula said, “Stay in control, Kristina.”
And I was thinking, control? I am not in control. I have never been in control of this experience. I’m just holding on tight and letting my body do what it needs to do!
But what I said out loud, because I was having another contraction and pushing was, “FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCKKKKKKKKKKK.”
Yep. I’m always so classy when I’m in labor! There were a lot of expletives starting at this point folks. It was just so crazy and so fast and so so so intense. Intense is not nearly a descriptive enough word. And clearly I didn’t have the vocabulary at the moment to adequately express myself. I just kept saying “Oh my god oh my god ohmygodohshitohmygod.”
See with Dashiell, I don’t really remember the pushing part being that crazy. I mean I’m sure it was but my labor was so much longer and by the time I was pushing I was sort of maxed out on feeling. This time it all happened so fast that I felt everything.
So they did manage to get me to the bed, to get my shorts off, and luckily called the midwife in time. For some reason they hadn’t told her when I was on my way in (I had called from the car), nor when I arrived in L&D. And she didn’t have any other patients so she was sleeping in the call room. But she did arrive. As did a baby nurse and a few residents and maybe some more people too, I can’t remember and didn’t care.
And then once I was on the bed, someone checked me and it wasn’t a matter of dilation at that point. I was plus 2 and his head was practically already out. At that moment a little face peeked around the side of the bed and was like “Hi! I know this is sort of an awkward way to meet, but my name is James and I’m an OB resident here and I’m going to help deliver your baby if that’s okay.”
Uhhhhmmmm. I can’t imagine the look I gave him. Like um, guy. My baby is literally coming out right now. I DON’T CARE who is here and who isn’t! Poor James. I think it might have actually been his first birth ever.
In between one contraction Shadman guided my hand down so I could feel my baby’s head and know that I was actually making progress. Do you know what? Baby heads are SQUISHY! They do not feel like head at all. Very weird.
And then on the 4th push at 12:46 am, I heard Shadman say, “That’s too fast, too fast!”. But there was nothing anyone could have said that would have made me stop pushing. Nothing. And he came flying out, screaming just like his mama. Sorry bud! Don’t they say that the birth experience informs the temperament of the baby as a newborn? Oops.
It was insane. That’s the only way to describe it. But it was fast and then it was over and that was awesome. They laid him right on my belly and I asked if he was a boy or a girl. Last time Brock was so anxious to find out who we were having that he called it out practically as Dashiell was entering the world. But this time he was more concerned with making sure everyone was okay and in one piece. So the nurse said, “It’s a boy!” And I said, “A boy. Of course he’s a boy!”
And then I said, “I’m sooo glad that’s over.”
Followed shortly by, “If we have a third, I’m getting the epidural.”
I got two stitches and then everything was golden. It was amazing to be so unconnected to everything. No IV, no heplock, nothing. Just me and my baby laying on the bed. They did end up giving me a shot of pitocin in my thigh to help with bleeding, but that was so much better than being hooked up to the IV, which they probably would have done had the nurse had time to get the heplock in. I totally get why people go to such lengths to keep things as minimal as possible. With Dashiell the actual birth felt like a procedure. I had an IV for fluids, I had oxygen, they used a vacuum. It felt very medical. But this time I could have been anywhere, I just happened to be in the hospital. Aside from the insanity, it really was perfect.
And now here we are. One month gone already and to be honest, my birth story seems kind of insignificant compared to our new life as a family of four. But that’s a whole different post that I’ve been thinking about a lot. I think I would like to share, because I know there are people out there who would love to hear another mama’s experience. But we’re taking things day by day at the moment so we’ll see when I have time to write another post. This one has taken two weeks, after all.
We are well and settling in to a little routine and while there are have been ups and downs, I’m trying to remember that before I know it things are going to be awesome. MORE awesome, I mean.
See you all soon.